view_from_the_top

Last week I wrote about Groupon’s Partner Network and how Groupon is taking its affiliate program private.

The headline for this announcement in the Los Angeles Times was “Groupon to pay commissions to bloggers: The Groupon Partner Network will pay bloggers a commission for bringing consumers to the website’s deals.”

That was a bit misleading since Groupon has been paying bloggers for years in that some of its content publishers (or bloggers) were affiliate marketers. The article made it seem as though this was new tact for Groupon.

From the article: This kind of Internet advertising puts Groupon into competition with Google AdWords and Yahoo Bing Network — long-established and lucrative platforms for those tech companies.

“This is an alternative for publishers to better monetize their site,” said Sean Smyth, Groupon’s vice president of global partner marketing and business development.

The Groupon news also highlights the point that while many affiliates are bloggers not all bloggers are affiliates. Yet most bloggers are looking to monetize their sites and many publishers are eager to have their brands mentioned by those influential bloggers, which often have very targeted, desirable niche audiences.

We are seeing more of our clients that are seeking out high quality content publishers and are willing to pay them to write about their products.  The merchants are flexible and say they will bloggers per post and not just on a rev share or commission basis, which is the affiliate marketing model.

This isn’t something new. In fact, in 2009 FTC addressed the growing issue when it revised its disclosure laws to insure that bloggers recommending product were clearly stating somewhere on their site or in the article that they had been paid to post about the product or service or company.

Before the disclosure laws some merchants saw this tactic of paying bloggers backfire on them. In some cases, it created an air of mistrust for both the blogger and the merchant. Because some site visitors were left with a bad taste – feeling they were duped by a site they trusted – a lot of merchants backed off on the practice.

But now there seems to be resurgence as merchants look for new ways to compete online and bloggers have a set of guidelines outlining how to handle these disclosures.

What that means for us as an agency is that we are now recruiting bloggers and affiliates. However, the proven methods and best practices for recruiting affiliates aren’t always the same for attracting content bloggers. The cycle of engagement to get bloggers on board is longer and often requires custom creatives and special deals.

This can be very effective when handled correctly, but there needs to be processes and systems in place to ensure the best results for the merchant and the blogger. We have been working on these processes for a while now. And we have seen very positive results. I expect that we’ll have more merchants using this pay-per-blog model and we are ready for the challenges and benefits.